Black Hat Brings Hackers, Cybersecurity Experts To Las Vegas


Patrick George/Ikon Images/Getty Images

The hack of the Democratic National Committee computer systems shows once again that cybersecurity remains a work in progress.

Embarrassing emails released on the eve of this week’s convention cost the party chairwoman her job, with fingers pointed to Russian intelligence as the culprit.

The episode should provide food for thought at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference, which brings together hackers and those who want to stop them.

The event starts Saturday at Mandalay Bay and will draw experts from around the globe. Cybersecurity will also be discussed at a Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce breakfast being put on in advance of Black Hat.

Moderating the chamber panel will be Shane Tews, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy. To those looking to lower the risk of being hit by a cyberattack, she advises backing up data and avoid being an obvious target.

“I drive a convertible car,” Tews said, “The key to owning a convertible is you never put anything in plain sight. And, knock on wood, I’ve never been broken into.

“It’s a little bit the same situation; you want to keep you (computer) system as tight and clean as possible.”

Support comes from

Jeff Grace is the CEO of Las Vegas IT vendor NetEffect.

He said that while there is an idea that Las Vegas casinos have cybersecurity under control that may not be the case.

“They’re like any organization," he said, "They struggle to keep their stuff secure but usable at the same time.” 

Grace said he works with the casinos to make sure there is a balance between ease of use and security.

Troy Wilkinson is a computer security consultant. He said that the idea that casinos are big banks where hackers can make a lot of money by cracking their system is not really true.

He said hackers are just like regular thieves walking through a neighborhood looking for unlocked cars.

“Most of the time they are looking for opportunities,” he said.

Just like thieves will pull the door handle on dozens of cars to find the one that is open, hackers will looking through dozens of systems to find the ones that are less secure.

Tews said investing in the front end and making sure a system is secure is just like locking your car door. She also said that is part of why decades into having the internet security is still a problem.

“The good news is we have a huge digital economy that has come out of this, but the bad news is they did not put in security when they created the Internet and now we’re seeing the consequences of that,” Tews said.


Shane Tews, technology expert, American Enterprise Institute; Jeff Grace, CEO, Las Vegas IT vendor NetEffect; Troy Wilkinson, computer security consultant


You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.